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The Rockologist: Always Something Left There To Remind Me

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Yes, I know that the title of this article is a reference to a Dionne Warwick song, probably written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David (I didn't check, but I'm pretty sure). So allow me to explain…

This article is about none of them.

I just thought that the title made sense in this particular instance. Because when it comes to rock and roll, there is always something left there to remind me about why I love this music so much that has shaped my life the way that it has.

You see, when rock and roll really works, it has this ability to make emotions, long hidden from the world and lying deep inside, well up all of a sudden and make the tears roll down your cheeks like rain. Or, at least that much is true in my own case. Last night, though quite unexpected, was just such an instance.

After coming home from a fairly typical night of kicking ass at music trivia at my local bar, I settled into my little nook and flipped on the HBO broadcast of the recent Rock And Roll Hall of Fame Concerts at Madison Square Garden.

There were lots of great moments there too, most of which sent me scurrying to my CD collection to make sure I still had the CDs of all the artists involved. Jeff Beck and Buddy Guy playing together for Chrissakes'? I mean, get outta town! Simon And Garfunkel nailing "The Boxer" right down to the crashes during the chorus? Spot on.

And Fergie? You go, girl!

I am in no way, shape or form a Black Eyed Peas fan. But the way that girl literally nailed Merry Clayton's backing vocal on "Gimme Shelter" with Mick Jagger and U2 sent shivers running all up and down my spine. Seriously, that girl has got some Janis pipes.

Say whatever you will about Fergie. Yes, the girl has spectacular boobs. What I never knew until now however, is that she has some serious lungs to match. If I have ever disrespected this girl, I promise on my Mama's grave never to do so again. Janis Joplin herself would be in awe, and I believe Bono himself said as much after the fact.

But, as is almost always the case for me, the whole thing came down to Springsteen's set.

So yeah, this is yet another case of your Rockologist singing the praises of the Boss. But I really want to put this into context here, and maybe give you an idea of just what it is I love about this guy so much.

In the thirty or so minutes HBO gave to Springsteen's performance at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame concert at MSG, I saw some serious vindication of every reason why I love rock and roll as much as I do — which is a whole lot, by the way. There is a reason why Bruce's music often affects me to the point where the tears will freely stream down my cheeks — which they did often here, and without a "Badlands" to be found in the set I might add.

As Springsteen shows go, I've seen plenty better — no doubt about it — but Bruce still reminded me of everything I love about rock and roll.

When Bruce and Tom Morello traded off guitar solos and lyrics about people living under bridges on "The Ghost Of Tom Joad," he reminded me of rock's social conscience. When he brought out Sam Moore for “Soul Man,” Bruce reminded me of the spiritual power of redemption that is inherently at the center of the three or so chords of that deceptively simple song. With Darlene Love, Bruce reminded me of that long-gone promise of innocent romantic love of all those great Phil Spector records produced decades before he became a convicted murderer.

With the great John Fogerty, doing "Fortunate Son," Springsteen also reiterated the social consciousness that has always been at the center of the best rock and roll and that represents everything I love most about it. It's something about that whole free your ass, and the mind will follow thing.

But then, Bruce topped it off with "Jungleland." Pete Townshend may have written the double-album rock operas Tommy and Quadrophenia — and I love both of them. But if ever there has been written a more perfect street aria than "Jungleland" — channeled into about seven minutes and topped off by what is arguably the greatest sax solo ever recorded — I challenge anyone reading this to reproduce it.

Seriously, I double dare ya'.

I've seen Bruce and the E Street band perform this song many times over the years, and to be perfectly honest, most of them were better than this.

But in this case, it was a perfect bookend to an amazing thirty-minute performance that encapsulated everything I love most about the Boss, and everything I love about rock and roll itself.

The social consciousness, the sense of history and, more than anything else, the promise of escape from both the mundane and the ordinary. For my money, there is nobody still working today that represents those original promises of rock and roll the way that Springsteen and the E Street Band does.

If there is always something left to remind me, Springsteen reminded me of it once again tonight. End of story.

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About Glen Boyd

Glen Boyd is the author of Neil Young FAQ, released in May 2012 by Backbeat Books/Hal Leonard Publishing. He is a former BC Music Editor and current contributor, whose work has also appeared in SPIN, The Rocket, The Source and other publications. You can read more of Glen's work at The Rockologist, and at the official Neil Young FAQ site. Follow Glen on Twitter and on Facebook.
  • Greg Barbrick

    I will not comment on yet another case of Rocksport – Bruce delusion.

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    Ahh, but thats the thing Greg. You just did.

  • http://jetsgaypride.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Greg?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Great article, Glen. Though I haven’t been following rock of late, you make want to listen to these artists.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    I still need to watch this

    “arguably the greatest sax solo ever recorded”

    WTFrench? I see you are not a jazzologist

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    I will be the first to admit that, no, I am not a jazzologist. I also don’t speak French. Well, at least not that kind of French…

    -Glen

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Decent Article…

    All this from a R’N’R Hall of Fame concert?! Fergie vocally towering over a withered Bono and probably the worst singer of all time – Jagger. Jeff Beck dropping down several notches to play with a highly overrated Blues plucker(where’s Eric Johnson when you need him?). And one of the worst rock acts in the history of rock’n’roll – Springsteen.

    I guess this is why they always get,like, seventy washed-up artists on stage to play together because no one can hold their own anymore. I wish I was as easily impressed.
    Maybe, they should rename it to the “Rest’N’Relaxation Hall of Shame”

    Anyways, Glen, I’m pretty sure your article held more emotion and passion then any of those “artists” performances did.

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    Wow, you really loaded that one up didn’t ya’ Gupster?

    For the record, Beck and Guy are two of the best ever. Period. Guys like Eric Johnson learned much of what they know from those two guys.

    Springsteen at 60-something years old has more energy than 90% of the guys out there doing it at half his age, and the E Street Band are still one of the tightest bands in the business. You are simply misguided Brian, but I promise I wont hold it against you.

    -Glen

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    With regard to comment #1 by Mr. Barbrick, I have two rules when it comes to writing…

    1. When you think you’ve got a potentialy good idea in your head, write it immediately no matter what. And…

    2. Never write after you’ve been out to the Rocksport.

    Oh well. One out of two here I guess…LOL…

    Not that you’ve never been guilty of WWD of course…

    -Glen

  • http://etierphotography.blogspot.com/ FCEtier

    Is the 30 min performance you saw on Youtube? If not, how can I see it?

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Just tryin’ to put that mainstream mess into some perspective, ya know?

    Actually, I wasn’t dissing Jeff Beck(come on Glen, READ!) and, for the record, whatever Eric Johnson learned from those two, he definitely took it to a new untouchable plateau that even the new axe slingers can’t fathom.(Especially with the Electromagnets)

    Glen, I don’t believe I’m misguided. I just wasn’t apart of that Dylon loving, Springsteen beholding, “Free Love” era. And I wouldn’t count out RUSH, Heaven & Hell(Black Sabbath),Motorhead, Judas Priest & possibly a few others that could very well hold their own against “The Boss” nowadays.

    But, I won’t hold that fanboy statement against ya…*smirk*

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    FC,

    I doubt this will be on YouTube as HBO is pretty strict about copyright issues, but I’d be very surprised if there isn’t a DVD somewhere down the line.

    Brian,

    I’ve no doubt the acts you mentioned are all great live performers. As for not being part of the Dylan loving, Springsteen beholding generation…well, that’s your loss I guess. I’m not sure I make the same connection to “free love” there that you do. In fact the thought of that is just…ya’ know, “icky.” LOL…

    -Glen